Mapping the deep project
Dr Kerry Howell and her research team are leading the way in the field of deep-sea habitat mapping through the Mapping the Deep Project. This project will provide marine environmental managers with accurate maps on which to make decisions about where we allow human activities such as fishing and mining to go on, and placement of Marine Protected Areas. These maps will also allow us to learn more about what habitats are in our deep-sea, which ones are rare, and which are most vulnerable to human activities.
The mapping the deep project uses state of the art equipment such as multibeam and Remotely Operated Vehicles, combined with modelling techniques to look at the different habitats in the deep-sea and the environmental conditions they are found under. For example, if we can show that cold water coral reefs are most likely to grow at certain depths, on rocky, sloped terrain, we can use this knowledge to predict where else might expect to find them. This is the basis if predictive habitat mapping.
The Mapping the Deep project has already produced coarse scale predictive maps of the distribution of three highly vulnerable deep-sea habitats which can now be used to help target future survey and conservation work. Further details about the Mapping the Deep project are available in our project film